Yvette Cooper has received an outpouring of support for asking a series of powerful questions to Priti Patel regarding the spread of the Delta variant of coronavirus and outbreaks of the virus in asylum accommodation.
Speaking in a Home Affairs Committee yesterday, the Labour Party MP scolded the Home Secretary on a range of themes and put her on the back foot.
Speaking about news that 59 asylum seekers are still in dorms at a barracks that had a major Covid outbreak last year, Cooper said: “The answers that you have given... implied that you did not know what the PHE advice was…
“You had an outbreak of 200 cases in dormitory accommodation and anybody across the country could tell you that putting people into dormitories in the middle of a pandemic was going to be a risk.”
Patel replied: “Obviously I did not see emails that went to officials, and I can only make decisions based on the advice that comes to me…and the advice that came to me was based on the guidelines or the approach that we should be taking in terms of stepping up our facilities…”
Meanwhile, Patel was criticised after she said the border system had “not failed” despite the spread of the Delta variant, first identified in India.
1/ I asked the Home Secretary today why the Covid border system had failed to stop multiple Delta cases entering UK… https://t.co/qvooo8RkzE
The Home Secretary added: “It is entirely wrong to suggest we delayed putting India on the red list, which is effectively the suggestion that is being made.
“There were other countries that were put on the red list, including Bangladesh and Pakistan early in April and that decision was taken on the basis of the positivity rate of people entering the country and the data showing the proportion of people testing positive.
“The date of the India red-listing — the ban was the 23 April — with everyone arriving from India then being put into quarantine in a hotel for 10 days and that is also five days before the Delta variant was formally put under investigation on 28 April and two weeks before it was labelled a variant of concern on 7 May.”